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Re: [xmca] Perezhivanie and Dewey's concept of experience

Thanks for that Martin. All very interesting indeed.
I always tend to presume that wherever an ancient source is cited for some concept, unless the citing author is a classical scholar, there was some *mediating* source which is the *proximate* source of the concept. The attached excerpt which I think I took from the CW of Freud, explains where I got the idea that Freud got it from Josef Breuer (mediated via a friend who is au fait with Freudian thought). But, maybe Vygotsky was studying Aristotle. I'l have a look at that section of "The Psychology of Art". Thanks. But sources aside (I defer to you on that, Martin), the descriptions you have provided of catharsis square with my understanding as well. I appreciate how you have made the connection between the usual Feudian meaning of catharsis, and the aesthetic process which was central for the young Vygotsky - and Dewey too apparently! But I don't see this in Vygotsky's later work anywhere. Would be interested if you can find anything about catharsis in this vein post-1924. Also, I can't recall where I read something about art which explained why art is necessary to communicate an experience directly, by allowing the audience to "re-experience" the experience, rather than an explanation of it. Dewey? Stanislavski? Vygotsky? Do you know?


Martin Packer wrote:
Here's Victor Turner, in the book I mentioned in my previous message, on what for Dilthey makes a difference between 'experience' and '*an* experience':

"These experiences that erupt from or disrupt routinized, repetitive behavior begin with shocks of pain or pleasure… Then the emotions of past experience color the images and outlines revived by present shock. What happens next is an anxious need to find meaning in what has diconcerted us, whether by pain or pleasure, and converted mere experience into *an* experience. All this when we try to put past and present together" (36).

"Aesthetics, then, are those phases in a given structure or processual unit of experience which either constitute a fulfillment that reaches the depths of the experiencer's being (as Dewey put it) or constitute the necessary obstacles and flaws that provoke the joyous struggle to achieve the consummation surpassing pleasure and equilibrium, which is indeed the joy and happiness of fulfillment" (38).

I'm not sure why Andy attributes Vygotsky's notion of catharsis to Bleuler and considers Aristotle irrelevant. It is to Aristotle's writing that LSV himself attributes the concept, in the Psychology of Art. Catharsis for the Greeks was "a sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes overwhelming feelings of great pity, sorrow, laughter, or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal, restoration, and revitalization" (as Wikipedia has it).
Viacheslav Ivanov, who LSV refers to in the Psych of Art, considered catharsis (a la Aristotle) to be the way a novel, for example, grips and affects its readers and leads them to self- knowledge. Catharsis is not only an aesthetic affect, it is the engine of positive historical action.

Vygotsky's own definition of catharsis spells out this dynamic and transformative character in some detail, reminiscent of both Ivanov (though he didn't accept Ivanov's Symbolism) and Turner on Dilthey. Catharsis is "a complex transformation of feelings," an "affective contradiction" that results in resolution: in short, a dialectical process on the level of emotion. Feeling alone is not sufficient to bring about the psychological transformation that Vygotsky is interested in; it is the work of art that has the power to initiate "the creative act of overcoming the feeling, resolving it, conquering it."

On Mar 2, 2013, at 4:13 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

Re boundaries of experience and Dewey. In his book on education and
experience he quotes "the poet" in a relevant way

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.

The poet was Tennyson, the *I*, Ulysses.


On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

I find this topic very fertile ground which may need to be *reworked*.
Robert mentioned Dewey was criticized for not having an understanding of
the *tragic soul*   Andy mentioned that an experienced must be *bounded*.
I would like to add further reflections from Tom Leddy's article you
attached on Dewey's Aesthetics. I am referring to page 34 & 35 where Dewey
is exploring the common substance of the Arts. This section is a response
to the *tragic soul* and *bounded* experience.

The creative process BEGINS with a "total seizure", a "mood", which
determines the development of art into parts.  THIS *element* Dewey refers
to as a *penetrating quality* which is immediately experienced in all parts
of the work. It is so pervasive we take it for granted. Without this
penetrating quality the parts would only be mechanically related.  The
organic whole IS the parts PERMEATED by this penetrating quality. It may be
called the SPIRIT of the work. It is also the work's *reality* in that it
makes us experience the work AS *real*  This penetrating quality is the
BACKGOUND that qualifies everything in the foreground.

What are the *boundaries* of this background which Dewey calls *the
setting*?  Dewey's answer is thought provoking. He assumes that although
experiences have bounded edges like those of their objects, the whole of
*an* experience, and especially its qualitative penetrating *spirit* within
the object, EXTENDS INDEFINITELY. This penetrating quality of the
experience is THAT which is not focused within the experience.  The margins
of our experience shade into that indefinate expanse.  This experiential
penetrating backgound is only made CONSCIOUS within the specific objects
that form the focus.  Behind every explicit experience there is something
implicit that we call *vague* but this vagueness was not vague in the
ORIGINAL experience for this penetrating quality is a FUNCTION of the whole
*situation*  An experience *is mystical*, Dewey believes, to the extent
this feeling of a penetrating background is INTENSE. This penetrating
quality is particularly intense in certain works of art, for example IN
TRAGEDY.  A work of art must include something not understood.

I am not sure if Vygotsky shares a *family resemblance* with this
expansive, penetrating sense of *substance* which makes reality FEEL
*real*. The question of the boundedness of *an* experience, from Dewey's
understanding certainly was reflecting on the *tragic soul* within


On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:17 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

It all moves so quickly it is hard to take it all in, Larry, let alone
find time to comment.I am still
back on rhythmicity which I am thinking of from the perspective of
someone who thinks of
communication as patterns of coordination over time.

In this regard, it seems to me that many of Durkheim's ideas in
Elementary Forms of Religious
Experience are highly relevant. Durkheim's pluses and minuses are, I
know, a matter of important
debate in themselves, but they come down to me through my engagement with
cross cultural
research through Levy-Bruhl and Piaget.

And now, toss in the Bakhtin (the liar or the seer) and it should be
enough to think about when we are being absent minded.


On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:43 AM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com>wrote:


This months themed issue linking felt experience with Bahktin's notion
of genre's and cultural-historical-activity theory wiil keep the current
dialgue with Dewey alive.
I'm anticipating a lively encounter.

On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 8:20 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:

We will be re-posting the articles for discussion poll a little later
morning and
restarting the balloting so that the full menu is out there for people
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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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